Three inmates escape; two remain at-large
By By ROBERT BLANKENSHIP
Advance Managing Editor
One inmate was apprehended and two others remain at-large after they fled from the Atmore Community Base Facility, a work-release prison, in a state van Monday morning.
Prison officials said Walter Shipp, who was serving time for a burglary sentence in Baldwin County, was instructed to drive a state van to Monroeville to pick up two inmates who worked at a Pizza Hut there. Danny Ward, who was serving time for burglary and receiving stolen property in Houston County, went with Shipp although he did not have permission. Lt. Robert Skipper said this leads him to believe that the escape was planned.
Officials suspect Ward used one of the three or four doors leading from the dormitory to where he would have access to Shipp and the van.
Prison officials did not suspect anything to be wrong until approximately midnight when they received a unanimous phone call telling them to do a bed count. After the bed check they realized that Ward was missing, but still had no idea that his escape was connected with Shipp and the van headed to Monroeville.
Skipper said an employee at the Pizza Hut called the prison about 15 minutes later and told them the van had arrived and picked up Joshua Boatwright, an inmate serving time for escape, but left the other there. When the van did not return to the prison, officials reported the van and prisoners missing and sent information regarding the inmates to law enforcement agencies across the state.
No information came regarding the men's location until 5:30 a.m. when a radio operator who works at the facility was driving to work and saw the van parked on the side of Interstate 65 north at mile marker 64 or 65, just south of Alabama 113. He also saw one inmate walking along the interstate approximately two or three miles away.
Officers were sent to the area where they found Boatwright and placed him into custody. The van was also recovered at that time.
Tracking dogs were brought in to search for the other inmates, but Shipp and Ward remain at-large and authorities continue efforts to locate them. Both men are white males.
Warrants have been filed and signed against all three men for escape and Skipper said the charges will be presented to a grand jury.